2.03.2009,7:57 PM
Desert Rats in Big Bend
"So what does one do in the desert?" I was asked the other day. What does anyone do in the desert? It depends who you are. Let's see what our Desert Rats group did during our stay. When you wake up to this after sleeping under a thick blanket of stars, it's hard to get motivated to do anything.

You may find us sitting or reclining, muttering, "Uh huh"ing, slurping, sighing, maybe an occasional snore.

We'll feed the quail, listen and watch them patter to and fro with their little antennas on their heads.

Visitors may stop in. Roger, our host, shares his vistas with anyone; he's very generous that way.
(that is Reed's Plateau; one of my most favorite landmarks and dirt road that winds up it)
Then the big question comes: "Okay, folks. What do you want to do today?"

Some of us may get geared up, go for a ride and do some exploring.
(Moon Valley. An area of volcanic tuft just northwest of the national park. The road is deep sand.)

Small groups may mosey off exploring elsewhere. Paul straps his mountain bike on his Honda ST to explore the back country.

Of course, we usually take the back road -Fulcher Road- from Terlingua, down through Long Draw and out onto Hwy 118 which enters Big Bend National Park. To do so, one must ride through Terlingua Creek. It always has water in it between Hwy 170 and its mouth where it greets the Rio Grande River. I love that water crossing; I run through it throttle wide open and sometimes catch air on the way out.

Perhaps we might have a destination in mind, or then again, a spontaneous goal. We seemed to meet friendly folks from everywhere.
(Behind the Chisos Lodge in the Chisos Basin in the Chisos Mountains. I think you get the location now.)

Including the locals; permanent or seasonal.

The food was delicious. Especially the cobbler with ice cream, found only in the Chisos Basin Lodge in the National Park. Our waitress was from Alaska and very friendly. Be sure to request the cobbler and ice cream in a bowl. Otherwise it is served in a cocktail glass and rather difficult to eat.

Calgary Graeme gave his seal of approval.

We had a few visitors. Roger found Mike in Study Butte and led him up to share several days with us. Mike is on a trip from Alaska where he is a trails guide for a national forest. He rides an older BMW and he does well on it; he traversed the creek crossing on Fulcher Rd perfectly. We all enjoyed his company, his stories, and sharing rides and hikes. Roger and I 'escorted' Mike to the Basin (via the infamous water crossing) and sent him off on his visit in the Park. He came back for another night with us before he left town heading east. I sure hope we see him again.

Big Bend has its own Waldo: Bubbly Bob. Or Bouncing Bob. He and his wife are retired from Illinois and live in the BB area during the winter. Bob is everywhere; no matter where we were -out riding, eating, hiking, sleeping....- Bob would appear out of nowhere. Sometimes several times a day. He puts a lot of miles on his KLX250 every day. A LOT of miles.

I ran into people all over the place in BB that were from where I've lived. Well, maybe that's because I've lived in a lot of places, or maybe those places came back to haunt me. Kim and Chris, from New York, are on a year's sabbatical traveling around the country in their Toy Hauler and bikes. We ran into them here and there, Chris on a KTM950 Adventure and Kim on a BMW650.

After over a year of corresponding, we finally meet: Ara and Spirit. Ara and Spirit ride around the country in a BMW GS with a sidecar. Ara's home base, The Oasis, is now between Study Butte and Alpine in the Big Bend area. Ara's black-eye pea stew replenished a worn-out hiker from Big Bend State Park (me). Hopefully we'll have more time next time to sit and chat, Ara.

There there's the mascot: Wiley. Our trusted mascot that endurs spills and thrills.

We always regroup at the end of the day to feed and refuel, facilitated by the best Chuck Wagon Chef, David.

We gawk over the sunsets, sit around a campfire and tell stories until we drop. Then crawl into our bags and tents (or cot) as owls and coyotes lull us to sleep.

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.

posted by Macrobe
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